Friday, April 15, 2011
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Thursday, March 24, 2011
"We can't be at war. We never consulted Congress."
That got me thinking about the way the word for an action in a way defines it. We might be bombing Tripoli, but since "war" comes along with certain rules and expectations, let's just not call it a war.
So is it a war? NPR tackled this question in an article on its website, listing all the news publications (NY Times, CNN, etc etc) that are referring to "Operation Odyssey Dawn" (more on that ridiculous name later) a "war". But according to the professor of military history that NPR interviewed, the operation in Libya is at this point too limited in scope and intention to be considered a war. Right now, the US and its allies are officially only protecting civilians, not trying to overthrow the government or aid the rebels.
Officially, only Congress can declare war, and they haven't done that. But in the last fifty years, it's become increasingly uncommon for the US and many other countries to declare war at all. That's why wars like Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan and Iraq (both times) are not officially called wars at all.
Unofficially, though, it's considered to be a war when the US commits its official military forces against a clearly identified enemy political entity. (By this definition, Iraq and Afghanistan were over a long time ago.) Since that hasn't happened yet with Libya, we're technically not at war. Which is why the generals and government officials talking to the press have been using all these vague terms to describe the "military action" going on there.
However, NPR explains, if at some point the Ghaddafi forces hurt American interests and the goal of the action changes from just protecting the people to overthrowing Ghaddafi directly, what we are seeing now will retroactively have been considered a war from the very beginning.
Does that make everything clear and simple? No? Oh well...
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Catapano quotes many opinions on the role of "guerrilla reporting" in journalism, and he doesn't side definitively with one side or the other. On one hand, a little bit of deception is a natural part of journalism. For example, reporters often pretend to know less about a subject than they really know in order to get a subject to open up. On the other hand, it seems especially underhanded
and sneaky to create an entire fake organization and record a conversation via hidden cameras.
What do you think? Is this a legitimate form of investigation, or a sneaky prank? And either way, should the "expose" that's been uncovered be taken seriously or dismissed?
(note: I wrote this last week - for some reason the post never published...but I think the issue is still relevant.)
Monday, March 7, 2011
When I was younger, my family either subscribed to the local Morris County Daily Record, or the regional Newark Star Ledger (we switched to the Star Ledger because my mother liked their crosswords better.) So for old times sake, I visited the Star Ledger's website to see how it was doing.
Here are Monday's front page stories:
- an investigation into flight cancelation statistics
- a huge photo of the champion NJ high school wrestler
- an editorial on Newark's school system
- an article about a tax issue in NJ towns
- one AP article on Libya
At the Morris Daily Record, we have one article about a mysterious death in Parsippany, another about a guy who killed his wife in Washington Township, and a nice article about kids in Morristown who are pen pals with kids in Nepal.
Our world is so globally linked these days, that I honestly think people don't feel as connected to their hometowns as they once were. People are interested in reading about what's going on in the whole world, whether that means Hollywood or the Middle East. Either way, they don't care about local town politics, state legislation, or small-time corruption at the local level.
This is ironic and sad, I think, because this is the stuff that actually affects our lives. Petty small town politics make the difference between your town getting a new train station or not, the corrupt chief of police being prosecuted, or the school system getting reformed. This is the day to day stuff that really matters, and if people don't care to read about it, the reporters who want to do a public service by investigating and reporting on it, are never given that opportunity.
Here's a class poll - does anyone from a small town (or a city other than NY) keep up with local politics? Vote in local elections? Read the town newspaper?
Friday, March 4, 2011
At the same time, though, Israeli society at large is said to be moving to the right, putting Ha'aretz in a strange position. Their readership is shrinking, but even people who don't read the newspaper themselves see it as having an important place in society. That voice of dissent, the newspaper with the really out-there opinions that few people agree with, is an important voice--and one that can't be provided by a mainstream news outlet. Think of it as the polar opposite of Fox News (except Fox is of course pretty mainstream in that it's hugely popular.)
Who is our Ha'aretz? Do we have any media and reporters that are willing to go through what the Ha'aretz staff goes through (ostracization, mockery, a pipe bomb attempt) to bring to light unpopular opinions so they too are included in the public dialogue? I somehow don't think so.